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April 29, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan reacts to Adam Silver's ruling on LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Statement from Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan on NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s announcement that he is banning Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life, fining him $2.5 million and pressing for a forced sale of the franchise:

“I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s swift and decisive response today. He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA. I’m confident that the league, our players and our fans will move on from this stronger and more unified.”

Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2014 at 05:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (110)

April 28, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson will miss tonight's game against the Miami Heat.

Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson will not play in tonight’s Game 4 of the best-of-seven playoff series against the Miami Heat.

            Jefferson, who suffered a plantar fascia injury in Game 1, likely would be available for a Game 5 in Miami Wednesday should the Bobcats somehow beat the Heat tonight.

            Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said the one off day (there were two days off between the previous two games) just wasn’t enough time for Jefferson to recover. He could not participate at all in Monday-morning shootaround.

            Asked about his level of pain, Jefferson said, “This has been like stepping on nails. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

            Clifford said Bismack Biyombo would start in place of Jefferson tonight, but rookie Cody Zeller will likely pick up a majority of Jefferson’s minutes.

            Clifford said if this were the regular season, Jefferson would likely sit out two to three weeks with this injury. Jefferson said Monday morning he did not anticipate needing off-season surgery.

            Jefferson has clearly been the Bobcats’ Most Valuable Player this season, averaging 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds. He was central to the Bobcats more than doubling their win total this season and reaching the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

            “Regardless of what happens (tonight), this has been a wonderful season,” Jefferson said. “We need to continue to build and continue to get better.”

Posted by Observer Sports on April 28, 2014 at 05:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson 'doubtful' for tonight's Game 4 versus the Miami Heat

            More than likely Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson has played his last game this season.

            Suffering from a plantar fascia injury that occured in Game 1 of this best-of-seven playoff series against the Miami Heat, Jefferson wasn’t well enough to participate in any of morning shootaround. The Heat lead 3-0 with a chance to close out tonight.

Coach Steve Clifford sent out all the signals that playing Jefferson tonight might not make sense.

            “He couldn’t do anything this morning. I would say it’s doubtful he’d be able to play,” Clifford said.

            If Jefferson can’t play, Clifford said he would start Bismack Biyombo tonight. Biyombo has played a total of 15 minutes in the first three games of this series.

           More than likely rookie Cody Zeller would inherit a majority of the minutes Jefferson normally plays.

            Asked about his level of pain, Jefferson said, “This has been like stepping on nails. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

            Jefferson has clearly been the Bobcats’ Most Valuable Player this season, averaging 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds. He was central to the Bobcats more than doubling their win total this season and reaching the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

            “Regardless of what happens (tonight), this has been a wonderful season,” Jefferson said. “We need to continue to build and continue to get better.”

Posted by Observer Sports on April 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

April 27, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan's statement concerning Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan issued the following prepared statement Sunday afternoon, regarding racially insensitive comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling:

“I look at this from two perspectives – as a current owner and a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly.

            “As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA – or anywhere else – for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”

Posted by Observer Sports on April 27, 2014 at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

April 26, 2014

LeBron James says there's 'no room' in the NBA for Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said there’s “no room for Donald Sterling in our league,” and added if he played for the Los Angeles Clippers, he’d consider sitting out in protest of comments attributed to Sterling.

            TMZ obtained recordings of longtime Clippers owner Sterling scolding his girlfriend for associating with African-Americans. James reacted to the Sterling controversy in media availability before Game 3 of the Heat-Charlotte Bobcats playoff series.

            James said if it’s accurate that the 9 ½ minutes of statements were made by Sterling, then the NBA has to take swift and forceful actions against him.

            “As the commissioner of the NBA (Adam Silver) has to make a statement. Be very aggressive with it,” James said, adding that Sterling’s words were “disrespectful and appalling.”

            James said if he played for the Clippers he’d be “wavering whether or not” to sit out a game in protest of Sterling’s behavior.

            Then James implored Silver to sanction Sterling immediately.

            “I believe in Adam,” James said. “They have to do something very quickly.”

James is close friends with Clippers point guard Chris Paul, and said he particularly feels for Paul, trying to keep his team focused on the playoff series against the Golden State Warriors with the owner causing a major distraction.


Posted by Observer Sports on April 26, 2014 at 06:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 23, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson: 'I should be good for tonight'

MIAMI – Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson sounded optimistic at morning shootaround about his ability to perform tonight against the Miami Heat, three days removed from a Plantar Fascia injury.

            “I can’t say there won’t be any kind of pain. But I feel like every hour it’s getting better and better,” Jefferson said, his left foot in a protective boot. “It’s responding really well. I should be good for tonight.”

            Jefferson strained his left Plantar Fascia – the connective tissue between his heel bone and his toes – in the first quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 of this playoff series. He made all four of his shots from the field before the injury, then was 5-of-13 the rest of the game.

            Jefferson suffered pain so severe he needed two injections to stay in Sunday’s 99-88 loss. The question for tonight is not just Jefferson’s availability, but his effectiveness, playing with this injury.

            “I don’t think we’ll really know until the game starts,” said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford. “If he can be effective, we’ll play him. If not, we’ll get him out.”

            The only other potentially significant injury for either team involves Heat point guard Mario Chalmers. He sat out practice Tuesday and was limited in shootaround Wednesday by a shin bruise. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Chalmers’ availability will be a game-time decision.

            The Bobcats have treated Jefferson’s injury with electric stimulation and laser technology. But mostly this is about resting his foot inside that protective boot. Jefferson got the boot refitted after realizing the first one he got was too small.

            Spoelstra anticipates the Bobcats running more pick-and-rolls tonight to take some burden off Jefferson’s post-up game. But the Heat is preparing like Jefferson will be his normal self.

            “We’re going to treat him like he’s 100 percent,” said Heat center-forward Chris Bosh. “He’s one of the league’s best post players. You can’t just let him get to the spots he wants. He’s got two moves that are almost unstoppable.”

            In Game I the Heat guarded Jefferson primarily with Udonis Haslem, for his ability to deny post players their optimum spots on the floor.

            “What separates UD is his intellect, his savvy. It’s not just brute force,” Spoelstra said.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (62)

April 17, 2014

The difference in Bobcats/Heat playoff experience is eye-catching

Here’s a number that’s hard to dismiss in the upcoming playoff matchup between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Miami Heat:

            The players Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can turn to have 1,069 games of playoff experience including 727 starts. The players Bobcats coach Steve Clifford can use have 127 games of playoff appearances and 15 starts.

            Kinda stunning, huh?

That doesn’t mean all is lost. In the first NBA playoff series I covered some kids named LJ, Zo and Kendall beat Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Now that was different in that Bird was shot, McHale was next-to-shot, and Reggie Lewis had that ghastly collapse that was a harbinger of his eventual passing.

Stuff happens in the playoffs. The Golden State Warriors won a round last season, then gave the San Antonio Spurs fits in the playoffs. But the extent of the Bobcats’ post-season inexperience is telling.

Three of the five starters – Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – have never played in the post-season. No matter how much fans wish for the contrary, that will be a shock come Sunday in Miami.

The most playoff-ready guy on the Bobcats’ roster is Gary Neal. He played 41 games with the San Antonio Spurs, all of them as a reserve. The only reason there are 15 playoff starts on this active roster is because backup point guard Luke Ridnour has 11 – back to when Seattle had an NBA team.

Several weeks back I asked Neal about the difference between regular-season basketball and playoff basketball. He described that mistakes that are acceptable in Game 57 of  a regular season become deathly in Game 7 of any playoff series.

The mistakes Neal describes will define how long the Bobcats stick around the next two weeks.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 17, 2014 at 01:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

April 16, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats would open Sunday afternoon, on ABC, if they face the Miami Heat in playoffs

If the Charlotte Bobcats end up playing the Miami Heat in the playoffs – as they are currently seeded to do – they would play Game 1 in Miami Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

It would be the Bobcats’ first appearance on ABC-TV.

The NBA released a game schedule for the opening weekend of the playoffs. The only other possibility for the Bobcats is to move up to the sixth seed in the East and play the Toronto Raptors. The NBA schedule has the Raptors playing Saturday on ESPN, but has not yet released a tip-off time for Game 1.

Tonight is the final game of the regular season, with the Bobcats playing the Chicago Bulls. If either the Bulls beat the Bobcats or the Washington Wizards beat the Boston Celtics, the Bobcats play the Heat. If the Bobcats and Celtics win, the Bobcats play the Raptors.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 16, 2014 at 06:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Good thing Charlotte Bobcats' Steve Clifford can coach; he never would have made it as an IT guy

            One more thing we learned about Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford Wednesday: He’ll never be accused of being a computer nerd.

            Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, one of Clifford’s mentors when Clifford joined the New York Knicks as an advance scout, told the story pre-game: Clifford had impressive basketball credentials, but the advance scout’s chief responsibility is filing reports about upcoming opponents overnight via the computer and email.

            That was far from Clifford’s strength back in 2000.

            “It started off in training camp. He’d stay up all night trying to learn that computer,” Thibodeau recalled with a laugh. “So he does the first report and there are errors everywhere – they even hit the (play) diagrams.”

            It’s funny now, with two close friends both having ascended to NBA head coaches. But did Clifford ever figure out that computer?

            “He had to,” Thibodeau said, “or we all would have been fired.”

Posted by Observer Sports on April 16, 2014 at 05:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 14, 2014

Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker appears OK to play; Atlanta Hawks to sit three starters

ATLANTA – It sounds like there’s a strong chance the Charlotte Bobcats’ 11-game losing streak to the Atlanta Hawks comes to a close tonight.

            Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker (groin injury) went through morning shootaround fine and is expected to play tonight after missing two games.

            Meanwhile the Hawks plan to sit out three starters, as they have nothing tangible to play for tonight.

            Power forward Paul Millsap, shooting guard Kyle Korver and small forward DeMarre Carroll will all be out with various nagging injuries, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

            The Hawks have clinched the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and can’t get to seventh seed. However the Bobcats are still playing for seeding. They are currently seventh in the East, but could still finish sixth ahead of the Washington Wizards.

            The Wizards must lose at least one of their remaining two games for the Bobcats to have any chance to jump to sixth. The Wizards play the defending-champion Miami Heat tonight.

            However the Heat might not be at full strength. With the Indiana Pacers closing in on the top seed in the Eastern Conference, there has been speculation Heat superstar LeBron James might sit out tonight’s game. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra declined to say Monday morning whether James would play tonight.

            While it’s unlikely both the Heat and Bobcats lose tonight, that combination would lock in Heat-Bobcats as a first-round series.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 14, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)